Photosbycate Weblog

A Photo Essay Blog

Astoria’s in Bloom….Finally!

Three weeks ago I was hit with what I thought was a spring cold, it went away and I went on with life as usual and then the dastardly cold or should I say flu came back with a vengeance and laid me low for a week. I’ve managed to bounce back somewhat and all that remains of this vicious virus is a stuffed nose and a hideous rattling cough that makes me dizzy.

But, if you actually thought I was going to stay in on a warm sunny spring day, like we had yesterday, you were wrong. Despite my despicable circumstances, I sallied forth with tissues, cough drops and camera in hand to explore the wonders of Spring unfolding outside my door.

This is what I beheld before me as I walked along the streets, avenues and boulevards of Astoria; A bounty of budding branches, cheerful Cherry Blossoms, colorful Coleus, dazzling Daffodils, a daring Dandelion, forthcoming Forsythia, halcyon Hyacinths, marvelous Magnolias, romantic Ranunculus and a tempting Tulip. All in vibrant hues of pink, yellow, white and green against skies of blue. I sneezed and coughed and snapped for four hours, enjoying every minute absorbing the suns rays like a flowering thing. Oh, the joys of early spring.

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Looking Out From the Jersey Side

Mother Nature had still not allowed her flowers and trees to bloom just yet, as there was still a bit of a nip in the air so, I set my mind and lens on some urban photography, with a bit of the grunge thrown in. On Saturday afternoon I took the N train to 34th Street, transferred to the PATH travelling deep under the Hudson River getting off at the Newport station in Jersey City where, I made my way to the Hudson River Walkway.

I’ve walked the Hudson River many times from the NYC side with a view of Jersey City and thought it was time I looked to other way, so to speak. This is a nice long walk which passes through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg, North Bergen, Edgewater, and Fort Lee. I did not complete the whole walk but, what I did walk took me through Newport heading north to Weehawken and Hoboken then I double backed heading south passing through Newport again before heading back to the PATH and home.

The first thing you see when you step foot on the walkway from this section of the promenade, is the skyline of lower Manhattan with the Freedom Tower nestled in the middle of its sister skyscrapers, enjoying its new place in NYC history. I then turned left heading north where I spotted a huge red crane in the distance and some decrepit remains of old docks as well as the brown clock tower of the Lackawanna Rail Road Station; something I’ve only photographed while sailing on passing ferries.

The Manhattan skyline views from here are of the Chelsea waterfront upwards to 34th street and the Empire State Building and on the Jersey side the huge concrete ventilation shafts.They were wonderful to photograph sitting squarely on the edge of the river surrounded by bits of broken docks, old timbers and working barges.

I will say that my favorite subject to shoot that day was not the sky line of either Manhattan or Jersey City but, the hundreds of water eroded pylons, buried up to their necks in river water stretching in regimental rows before me; a rib cage of the old piers. The wind and water chiseled away at these pieces of wood creating masterpieces of abstract sculptures in green, brown and grey. The best was yet to come though, when I entered Hoboken and spied an abandoned building covered in sheets of decaying corrugated metal. Rust! Oh, rapture! I created my own abstract art, capturing the deep red and orange in the folds and bends of the metal layers.

For twenty minutes or so I was lost in a world of color and texture before moving on to the newly renovated Hoboken Terminal and the historic Lackawanna Rail Road Station. Once inside the terminal your eyes are pulled upward and dazzled by a gorgeous Tiffany stained glass ceiling (just mind-blowing), enhanced by huge chandeliers with moon like orbs dangling down towards the floor and beautiful metal work in the stairs and railing encircling the waiting room. The outside of the building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style and is covered in a striking blue-green aged patina that contrasted perfectly with the sky and the deep brown of its clock tower.

The walkway is not straight; it curves along the river, cuts around small marinas, winds around commercial and residential buildings and provides a waterfront tranquility to the towns that sit within its reach. I enjoyed my eclectic walk on the Jersey Side and hope you do too.


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Happiness is…….

The snow is gone

and now life goes on.

With a jaunt in one’s step

and smile on one’s lip.

The skies have all turned blue.

Each day has a brighter hue.

It must be that time again,

as one looks forward to when,

the Vernal Equinox has arrived.

Yes! It feels So Good to be alive.

Happy Easter!

A Sunday Sojourn Amidst a World of Plants

Last week I was sequestered in my apartment in the grip of a spring cold/flu or bug, or plague, or whatever you want to call it and by Sunday, though still feeling a little woozy, I needed to get the heck outside before cabin-fever set in.

Spring has sprung but, the weather has not caught up with it yet; it is still cold. The snow is all gone, nothing is yet in bloom not even the hardy crocus, so what to do? Head over to the Bronx Botanical Gardens where the orchids are in full bloom inside a nice warm sunny conservatory. I had not planned on shooting the Orchid Show this year nor going to the gardens yet, as I had wanted to wait for April when the Magnolia, Cherry Blossoms and Azaleas are in bloom and  spend a glorious day outdoors in the “warm” spring weather. With all that said, I did have a terrific time and took a boat load of images.

This year I took the long route through all of the gardens under the glass roof of The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to capture a mix of tropical, rain-forest and dessert blooms for this shoot as well as the stunning and diverse orchids. As always the conservatory was packed with people but, the crowd was courteous and pleasant as I busied myself with the camera and composition while weaving through the displays. I must say that my most favorite orchid this year is the Oncidium Spider or Spider Orchid, it really looks like a big ole spider hanging from the vines. My second favorite is the Strongylodon Macrobotrys or the Evergreen Jade Vine. The candy blue color of this orchid boggles the mind, it doesn’t look real and I nick named it The Elf Shoes as that is what it reminded me of. It hangs in a full long cluster like grapes and a few of the jewel like petals had fallen into the reflecting pool beneath, floating in yin yang shapes against an ink black background.

It felt so good to be surrounded by so much vivid color, even the desert plants had colorful blooms; one small cactus wore a bright orange fuzzy hat atop its spiky head. The rain forest boasted deep green, yellow and orange plants and one quite alien looking plant with long pink and cream fingers. I walked around surrounded by huge wide flat palms and waving ferns as tall as me.  I spotted a beautiful flower that looked like a bouquet of fuchsia tissue paper and a fiery orange berry like plant growing in a horizontal direction.

The last leg of my sojourn was through the main room where the Hanging Orchid Chandeliers were on display swaying in a gentle and thankfully cool breeze to the peppy sounds of 1930’s jazz. When first you walk through the doors you are overwhelmed by an explosion of orchids! The orchids are hanging, creeping, crawling and twisting up and over every square inch of the room. These blooms filled the air with a luscious blend of tropical aromas and imparted the feeling that they were having a riot of a good time. Maybe it was the music but, they looked like they were smiling, laughing, singing or talking.

Sit your self down with a glass of wine, a cup of rich coffee or comforting cuppa and enjoy the colors and warmth these images impart.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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In the Blink of an Eye

Beneath the surface way below the Ice

Through my lens I looked not once but twice

At a Crystal Cool world of Greens and Blues

And between the Leaves I’m sure I viewed

A wee Mischieveious face peeking out

I jerked my head back and gave a shout

“What is this all about!”

I looked down again, just to make sure

Stared through the Leaves and Water so pure

 “Could that be a Leprechaun I just saw?”

“Naw, it can’t be, I said to myself

It was probably just an Elf.”




Sepia Haze & Fire in the Sky

Last week I was inspired by a post from fellow blogger Leanne Cole, to pick up my tripod and head to the beach to take long exposure images of the sea. I did just that this past Saturday at Coney Island.

Although early March, there was still a thick layer of fresh snow blanketing the sidewalk, boardwalk and beach and a wonderful flat span of ice in the snow that made for a fun make shift skating rink.  It was cold but, nowhere near freezing temperatures that we have been having these past few months, one of the most bitter winters I’ve experience in a long time.

Despite the wintertime temperatures many people were out enjoying the sun and walking, running and playing on the beach as if it were a warm summer day. I came upon an elderly Russian man who walked into the middle of a huge flock of seagulls and dropped a large black plastic bag of bread to feed his feather friends. As he started to toss the bread in the air the birds went insane screaming, shrieking and swirling around this man, who in turn started shrieking at me when he saw my lens pointed in his direction. Since he was screaming in Russian I had no way of knowing what he was saying and it did not stop me from taking a few shots. I kept my distance though, in case I was pegged in the head by a loaf of Italian bread.

After that fun little incident I walked toward the newly restored Steeple Chase Fishing Pier. I set up the tripod and began to photograph the waves as they ran up the shore and slowly slid back to sea, including any reflections that were not washed away. Under the pier facing the sea through a tunnel of barnacle and ice encrusted pillars I zoomed in to create a square vortex.  I slowed the shutter speed down and waited for a wave to curl and smack against those same pillars, and pressed the shutter creating a smokey green rising mist.

I walked over to a jetty and captured the water as it swirled and turned milky blue around the giant rocks but, after a few more shots, I was bored. Other than the pier and rocks there wasn’t anything interesting to shoot. I had to get creative. Inside my little pack of filters was a sepia filter that I hadn’t use in quite sometime. I put it on the lens and saw the beach in a different light, indeed. I took a few shots of the rocks and noticed a soft glowing blur, obviously the filter needed cleaning but, then again I liked the effect and left it as it was.

I loved the golden yellow it imparted on the muscles that clung to the rocks and coppery sheen to the water when I shot into the sun. Everything developed an aged look even the ice as I captured the last of it frosting the rocks. Two of the ice formations I named Shark Bite and Walrus, as you’ll see why when viewing the images below.

Late afternoon was turning into early evening as the sun started its slow decent into night. I hiked back up toward the entrance of the pier through deep snow and sand to wander above the Atlantic Ocean and shoot the beautiful expansive views, of this urban peninsula, as the sun’s fading light gradually changed the color of the landscape before me.

Walking back toward the train station, the sky grew deeper, more vivid until a line of bright yellow appeared, like a spark igniting the clouds which then burst into flaming color.

Enjoy the warmth of sky fire.

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The Melting

It is  hard to believe, with temperatures back in the single digits that just two measly days ago, I was walking in the sun, with my hood down, my gloves off and my feet too warm in my boots.  Sunday was 45 degrees, a major heat wave here in the Big Apple, and I walked the streets of Astoria and the shores of the East River capturing this beautiful day mirrored in pools of water created by the melting snows. I squished through ankle-deep slush, clambered over pyramids of plowed urban snow, slipped on slick sidewalks, peeked into a thawing grotto of garbage and was baptized by a sprinkle of melt water from a sloping roof top.

When I arrived at Shore Boulevard and the East River I expected an icy cold gust to knocked me down but, there was not a breeze nor a breath of wind. As I walked along the shore line with the sun lightly toasting my face one would have thought it was a spring day in April, if not for the all the white stuff on the ground.

The river was calm and smooth like a mirror in between mats of frosty ice floes gliding along with the currents and providing me with incredible reflections. The rocks along the shore were capped with thick snow and being buffeted by pieces of ice that had broken away from a larger moving piece. At one point an enormous ice flow slid by and I could hear the crunch and crack of ice as it scrapped along the edges of the rocky shore taking any free-flowing flotsam & jetsam with it.

There were mallards bobbing between the ice and the seagulls were swirling around and around, they too enjoying  this taste of the coming Vernal Equinox. I stayed on the river promenade taking image after image of the elegant Triboro and Hell Gates bridges, the scene augmented by the sky and a tug boat or two.

Ah, to wander in the unwonted warmth of a later winter’s day.

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Sshin-Nyen Haoww! (Happy New Year)

In this year of the Wooden Goat

I wish You All Much Success and Health

Be Surrounded by Good Friends and Wealth

May this be a Year of Happiness too

Enjoying Peace and Harmony all the Year through




A January Riparian Jaunt

Not being sure what I wanted to shoot this past Saturday, I sat on the N train pondering as it headed towards Manhattan and it wasn’t until I was at 59th Street & Lexington Avenue that I made my decision to head South – to the Seaport.  I got off the N and transferred to the # 4 which took me to Fulton Street where I exited and walked down towards the East River. Walking along lower Manhattan’s narrow streets, icy cold winds were blowing off the river and I was having second thoughts about spending the day by the waterside.

Although around 14 degrees, there was no ice hanging from the rigging and masts of the port’s three most famous ships: The Wave Tree, The Peking and the light house ship Ambrose, which I was hoping for. There was a bit of snow here and there and the only ice was from the drainage pipes leading down from the FDR Drive above me. The bright side? It was a beautiful January day with only a few hardy tourists and I basically had the Seaport to my self.

The seaport has been a NYC historic go to destination for me since I was a young girl. My older sister Bridgett and her then boyfriend, now husband of 45 years Jack, would take my brother and I to the seaport on warm summer afternoons. The first time we went was back in the mid 1960’s and I still get excited when I see the masts swaying in the wind and listen to the aged ship’s bones creaking with the movement of the water.  The paint is peeling and the rust is growing redder and thicker around their bows and the sterns but, these maritime relics of the past can still excite the children of today just the same as they did in the past and I never tire of taking their “portraits.”

I walked along the river under the FDR; a great place to view and photograph the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and get some terrific grunge and rust too. Little stars of light danced on the water and seagulls flew into the scene at just the right moment and the sun kept me from freezing solid. I was having a good day and before I left the seaport I wandered up to Pier 6 to watch the helicopters filled with excited tourists, and capture them as they took off and landed from the heliport.



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In the Wake of Juno

So we didn’t have the catastrophic blizzard that was predicted but, we still had a pretty cool snow storm AND a snow day!!! Nothing like having a day off from work and spending it outside with my camera. Looking out my window, the ground was all covered in smooth white snow and the chunk-shush sounds of people digging their cars out of the drifts and, the whir and whirl of the snow blowers were the only sounds to be heard on this cold winter morning. I notice too, that my little red fire-hydrant had a big red friend.

I gulped down my coffee and gobbled my toast then proceeded to apply layers of clothing from head to toe. When done, I waddled outside with my camera and spent the next three hours bounding around in the snow taking photos of my neighborhood transformed by winter’s frosty breath, into an Urban Winter Wonderland.

Since there was so much white I went out of my way to find bright contrasting colors whether that be cars, berries or pipes. Anything that had color and was sticking out of a snow bank or mound was captured. I looked for repeating patterns and abstract angles and even a took a double reflection selfie.

Thank you Winter Storm Juno, I had a wonderful day.

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